Congratulations to Ashley and Aron on the birth of their baby! Aren’t they going to be the coolest parents ever? I can’t wait to follow their family’s adventures in New York and beyond.
I’d already lived in New York about five years before I had my daughter, but I don’t think I really fell in love with the city until I experienced it with my kiddos. It turns out that raising little ones in Manhattan is a real treat. I’ve even caught myself calling it magical on occasion (although during the months of January and February you’ll hear me using a very different word).
My favorite part might be that so many exciting things are only a short walk away. If I had to load up a car with two and half year old Claire and four month old Jack, knowing that we’d have to be back in a few hours for naptime, I’m pretty sure I’d never leave the house with our kids. Instead, I toss my bottomless purse over my shoulder and away we go. If I find myself with a toddler on the verge of a meltdown or a baby who decides he must nap in his crib immediately, we can abort mission and head home knowing that it will be easy to try again tomorrow. Here are some of our favorite toddler/baby friendly excursions that could never grow old (they also should be on every visitor’s list!):
We love a good picnic in Central Park, especially in the fall or early spring when there is a little nip in the air. We have our routine down, so we can make an impromptu dash for the park whenever the mood strikes: grab picnic bag, throw in cheese, apples, crackers, and a (sneaky) bottle of wine + a big blanket, and a couple kiddo toys.
Both the Boathouse
in Central Park and the Boat Basin
on the Hudson are ideal spots to grab a meal, snack, or drink with kids in tow. Since they’re outside, no one minds a little noise.
We’re huge fans of he Central Park Zoo
–it’s small enough to be manageable with a baby or toddler, but it includes all the highlights and a petting zoo for little ones.
My first apartment in New York was directly across the street from the Museum of Natural History
and it will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. Luckily, it’s also a fantastic place to visit with kids. Since Claire and Jack are young and we have a membership, we visit often, but only for an hour or two at a time. With so many outstanding permanent exhibits, we usually skip the crowds at the visiting exhibitions and find a quiet room for Claire to walk around and explore. The one exception we made to our no crowd rule is trick or treating at the museum and it was totally worth it. We’re counting down the years until both kids are old enough to attend the museum sleepover
, in part because my husband and I are dying to go.
Visiting the roof garden
at the Met
was an activity we did often pre-babies. After having Claire, we were excited to realize that it feels just as perfect with her (and now Jack) in tow. Our only disappointment this year is that Caro’s sculptures aren’t of the scale to which we’ve become accustomed and they aren’t meant to be touched. Interactive sculptures are the perfect way to introduce a child to art and Claire seemed to agree when she took some of her first steps while holding a branch from Roxy Paine’s Maelstrom
and hid within the Starn Brothers’ Big Bambu
A reliable source once told me that inflation night
is much more interesting than the actual parade
when it comes to in-person viewing. Although there is an official inflation viewing area open from 3:00-10:00 the night before the parade, the best viewing takes place behind the barricades on West 81st street. The street is only open to residents and (you didn’t hear it from me) people with invitations from someone on the street, but just make it happen. It’s a moment out of Miracle on 34th Street.
Although I’m definitely a Northern Californian in heart and spirit, I’m thrilled that my kiddos will always think of this special city as their first home.
[Top photo by Brookelyn Photography; all others are from Elisabeth]